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First POST: Data-Driven

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, March 26 2015


  • Hillary Clinton's digital team comes into full focus in Darren Samuelson's detailed report in Politico. In addition to Obama alum Teddy Goff as chief digital strategist, the campaign is hiring Katie Dowd as digital director, Jenna Lowenstein as a digital deputy, BlueLabs Elan Kriegel (who ran state battleground analytics for Obama in 2012) as analytics director, Matt Ortega as communication-digital connector and Andrew Bleeker as a top outside adviser.

  • The new name in that mix, Matt Ortega, for those who need a refresher, is really good at making timely and funny microsites poking fun at the opposition (recall 2012's, and

  • Samuelson also reports that Clinton "is building a New York-based campaign that senior party operatives say could ultimately be staffed with more than 1,000 data geeks, techies and digital gurus. Interviews for more tech-focused slots are happening 'on the half hour for what will be dozens of early hires,'” a longtime Clinton aide told him. This claim struck Alex Lundry of Target Point Consulting and former director of data science for Mitt Romney in 2012 as "dumbfoundingly laughable." He tweeted: "HRC campaign showing how little they understand tech and data by leaking 1000 employee # that no one who works in this biz believes." In 2012, Obama had about 300 digital and data staff overall.

  • Meanwhile, the official Ted Cruz presidential campaign is boasting about the ten staffers it has with PhDs in behavioral science or analytics, and how they monitored the real-time social media responses to Cruz's announcement rollout to maximize their fundraising efforts, as David Catanese reports for U.S. News and World Report. Welcome to the data-driven campaign arms race of 2016.

  • Writing for Yahoo Politics, Nancy Scola puts the Clinton email controversy in some perspective, noting that in 2012, when State Department employees were told by her at an agency mass meeting that they were finally getting the use of the Google Chrome browser, that was the only thing staff kept talking about. Scola also reports on State's "high security, concierge email system" expressly made for the agency's top executives, called the Principal Officers Electronic Messaging System (aka POEMS)--something no one currently at State would talk to her about--and asks some good questions about why Clinton didn't use it. Read the whole article--it's the best one I've seen yet on the whole affair.

  • Remember Meerkat? "90% of the time I click on a Meerkat I get a 'stream over'," tweets Farhad Manjoo, the New York Times technology columnist.

  • CrowdPac is seeking pledges for a fund to support challengers to the nearly two dozen House members who otherwise will likely lack a major-party challenger in 2016. You can filter your pledge to a single party or district.

  • Here's a website that makes it possible to sign a White House petition with a tweet (in this case, the petition calling on Obama to require federal contractors to disclose their political spending.)

  • New York City is creating a new text-message hotline to help connect troubled high school teens with mental health counseling, championed by First Lady Chirlane McCray and her daughter Chaira de Blasio. The service duplicates the much larger national Crisis Text Line service, and Nancy Lublin, that organization's driving force (and PDM friend), isn't happy, reports Yoav Gonen and Natalie O'Neill for the New York Post. “It’s a bummer to see the city I love spend taxpayer money to create a part-time version of something that already flourishes," she said in an internal email the Post obtained.

  • New York City's police are expanding their online community engagement program beyond their use of Twitter, launching a pilot using IdeaScale to solicit suggestions from residents, reports Benjamin Mueller and Jeffrey Singer for The New York Times. The experiment is starting in a blue-collar section of Queens whose residents, they note, "already feel[] comfortable collaborating with the police." Participants who have given their email addresses to local community leaders will be invited to join.

  • Here's the flip side of NextDoor's apparent usefulness as a neighborhood crime watch tool: it also facilitates racial profiling, or as Pendarvis Harshaw reports for Fusion, it "can become a forum for paranoid racialism." He reports, for example, on one user in Oakland who "has repeatedly seen black people in the neighborhood described as 'suspicious' characters," including friends of hers visiting her home.

  • Storyful is partnering with peer-to-peer messaging service FireChat to try to create a Firechat Newsroom, "acting as a portal through which journalists can engage in live conversations with communities making news on the platform," reports Mark Little, its director of innovation.

  • With Uber in the foreground, digital anthropologist (and PDM pal) Mark Pesce analyzes the long history of "connected labor" markets and their tendency to push wages down, but notes that they also "contain within them the capacity--and the competitive need--to improve the lot of connected labor."

  • A former Tesla intern, Eric Evenchick, is releasing an open source tool, based on Python, that will enable security researchers and hackers to gain greater control of their cars and probe them for weaknesses, Thomas Fox-Brewster reports for Forbes. I must say, this story's headline had me as "former Tesla intern…"

  • The SEC has adopted final rules allowing small companies to crowdfund. They go into effect in 60 days.

  • Here is an amazing list of 70 great conferences focused on issues of concern to nonprofits, curated by the WholeWhale digital agency.

  • Your moment of zen: President Obama meeting a group of six-year-old Girl Scouts from Tulsa who show off their Science Fair invention and ask him if he's ever made a "prototype" or had a "brainstorming session."

  • If you've read this far, that means you're a loyal stalwart of First POST. Send me your tips or responses at msifry-at-gmail-dotcom.